Local Spotlight: Ric Webb | Chief Pilot of OC Helicopters
“Local Spotlights” feature intimate interviews with local makers, artists and entrepreneurs in Newport Beach. Follow along every week to get to know familiar faces and creatives who continue to shape our community and make it what it is today.
Name: Ric Webb
Job Title: Chief Pilot of OC Helicopters
Chief Pilot of OC Helicopters, Ric Webb, brings 25+ years of military service experience dating back to 1979 when he worked in helicopter operations specialties. He spent time in the US Navy, US Army and the US Air Force. Today, Webb holds multiple Guinness World Records, including the record for the farthest distance traveled by electric helicopter. He now uses his decades of experience in the commercial space, offering aerial tours of Southern California to visitors and locals alike.
What do you love most about being a pilot?
I love the feeling of freedom, peace and soaring through the skies. I love the journey a flight can take you on and the friends you get to share the experience with. A view from above gives you a whole new perspective on the world.
What inspired you to want to be a pilot? Where did you learn to fly?
When I was 10 years old, I took a helicopter tour in San Francisco with my family, and I loved it. That flight sparked the passion I have for aviation now. I was working with helicopters as a safety swimmer and mechanic in the military when I knew I wanted to fly them instead. In 1982, as a civilian, I learned to fly an airplane. I started flying helicopters in Southern California in 1996 and knew that was the aircraft for me.
What is your favorite aspect of flying for OC Helicopters?
I think it’s the fact that to me, it’s not a job… It is my passion, and I am fortunate enough to be able to share it with everyone, making new friends along the way and perhaps inspiring the next generation of pilots.
What is your favorite place in Newport Beach to explore?
I love the water—the harbor, the ocean, the back bay—you name it. I started visiting Newport Beach around the age of 15 to surf all the hotspots, and whether in it, on it or above it, the feeling is always pure joy.
What sets Newport Beach apart from other coastal communities?
You can have it all in one special place—surf, sand, sky, harbor, boating, hiking, biking, food, fun, golf, shopping, and of course, helicopter tours! Why would you need to go anywhere else?
Where would you send an out-of-town visitor in Newport Beach?
Hmm…there’s so much to choose from since you can go from casual to fine dining in an instant. I think If I had to choose it would be Fashion Island, the Newport Pier and the Balboa Fun Zone (take the ferry!). Take a towel and head to any beach for some sun, fun and relaxation. Then take a helicopter tour for amazing views from above to see Newport in all its splendor!
3 of your favorite activities to do in Newport Beach (when you aren’t flying):
– Eating! I love a good meal and a nice glass of red wine. My wife is an amazing chef, but when we want a treat, we go to Newport Beach. We are spoiled here with all the great options!
– Duffy boat rides are the best. They’re fun, relaxing and a great way to explore Newport Harbor.
– Walking or driving along Pacific Coast Highway with our mini Aussiedoodle, Chopper!
Written By: Kaylin Waizinger